The Comics Are All Right: Break the Marketing Mold
While many are discussing the spiral death of the comic industry excuses as to the cause seem to vary depending on the position the person is in. Store owners often blame publishers for putting out too much, not marketing enough, incorrect pricing, lackluster product, a broken preordering system, and more. Indie creators focus on an antiquated distribution system, a market too focused on a few publishers, fans unwilling to take a chance. Fans blame stores for not reading their minds and ordering what they want, publishers for the product, creators who fight with fans.
In reality, it’s not one thing, it’s many that lead to the ups and downs of the comic industry.
But, there are some who are bucking the system. Creators who are talking directly to fans. Publishers who are going around the current distribution system. Stores who are finding customers and building their own communities.
There are roughly 284,163,264 individuals interested in comics according to Facebook demographics. That’s a large group of folks to advertise directly to. Stores, like Third Eye Comics in Maryland, are doing just that with engaging advertising to get folks to come to their store. Three years since I first covered Third Eye’s fantastic ad program they’re still going strong, so it must be working for them, right?
When I started these columns, I didn’t just want to highlight problems of the industry, I wanted to spotlight those who are doing things that go around the system and pave their own path like Third Eye Comics.
A prime example of this entrepreneurial attitude is ComixTribe headed up by Tyler James who recently spoke to us about Kickstarter and the things the publisher is doing there. The publisher definitely is blazing their own path working within and outside of the current system to create their own corner of comicdom and doing so by building a community.
Their latest project to break the mold is Sink. The series by writer John Lees, artist Alex Cormack, letterer Colin Bell has done its own thing to build its audience.
First: A series of emails to the ComixTribe list teased the new series
Second: After a series of teasers the comic’s first issue was given away for FREE to the dedicated email list. ComixTribe often gives away free first issues to incentivize individuals to join their list.
Third: A limited amount of print copies were released primarily at conventions.
Fourth: A Kickstarter has been launched to fund an offset printing for the comic before it’s released to mass markets later this year.
330 individuals, and $3,300 above the goal raised as of this article being published, the Kickstarter and marketing plan is a success.
But, the email list could have been it to build a promotion. ComixTribe has gone an extra step with what I see as a rarity this day, a physical mailing. It feels like far to few publishers and creators take advantage of a cheap communication platform like email, but to see one send out a physical mailing is impressive, to say the least.
You think this is would be a pretty big outlay right? Some Google search has each postcard pegged at about 30 cents a piece. A 5,000 person mailing would cost about $1,500. With the postcards just hitting mailboxes, the return on investment most likely hasn’t been seen… yet, but the project is already above its goal.
If 5,000 individuals seems like too few individuals for your $1,500 investment, that same amount of money on Facebook gets you about 63,000,000 views of individuals who said they are interested in comics. If 1% of 1% of those views take action, that’s 630 new Kickstarter pledges, almost double the current amount of individuals pledged for this project.
With ComixTribe, what we’re seeing is a new type of marketing being used, one that bucks the press release, blog, individual, shop, dynamic that’s dominated the industry. And by doing this sort of hard work, ComixTribe is building their own community, one that will follow them through ups and downs and the market and most importantly, they can talk to directly.
ComixTribe might be a small publisher, but their ideas are pretty big, and they’re showing the industry you don’t have to beholden to the current paradigm, you can create your own and find success.